World's youngest self-made billionaire, 28, 'absolutely' recommends dropping out of college saying it 'is not for everyone'

World's youngest self-made billionaire, 28, 'absolutely' recommends dropping out of college saying it 'is not for everyone'

College is not for everyone: Stanford dropout billionaire Austin

College education is often seen as the traditional and conventional path to success. However, some people have proven that you can achieve great things without a college degree. One of them is Austin Russell, the founder and CEO of Luminar Technologies, a tech startup that develops hardware and software for self-driving cars.

Russell is one of the world's youngest self-made billionaires, who dropped out of Stanford University in 2012 to launch his own company, after receiving a $100,000 grant from the Peter Thiel Fellowship, a program funded by billionaire Peter Thiel to nurture entrepreneurs.

Russell's decision proved to be the right one — his company is currently worth $2.6 billion. He also became the world's youngest self-made billionaire at age 25, when Luminar went public in a SPAC merger in December 2020.

Why college is not for everyone

Russell believes that college is not for everyone, especially for those who have a clear vision and passion for what they want to do. He told CNBC Make It, "College isn't for everyone. It's just sort of the traditional approach around what you do and what you're supposed to do."

He also said that he would have still left Stanford even if he hadn't received funding from the Thiel Fellowship. "If you're wondering if I would have dropped out [without the grant], yeah. Absolutely. There was no doubt in anyone's mind," Russell said. "It was going to happen anyway."

Russell argues that in today's world, there are many ways to access information and knowledge without going to college. He said that he learned a lot from watching online lectures and courses from Stanford and MIT when he was in his early teens. "All this information is available at our fingertips now online. This is not something that was true 50 years ago, [but] it totally is true now," he said. "You can do all these kinds of things that were never possible. You can get through entire curriculums and annual courses in weeks if you watch it back to back."

However, Russell also acknowledges that self-learning requires initiative and drive, which are essential qualities for entrepreneurs. "You have to have the initiative," he said. "You have to have the drive to do it. And particularly as an entrepreneur, there is no one that will be holding your hand along the way," he said. "You are directly accountable for at least all the things that are in your control, [like] what you do, what milestones you meet and what kind of product you ultimately deliver to the world."

The benefits of college education

While Russell's story is inspiring and impressive, it does not mean that college education is useless or irrelevant. Experts still maintain that a college degree provides favorable outcomes, such as better pay and higher-skill job opportunities.

According to a report by Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce, college graduates earn 80% more than high school graduates on average over their lifetime. The report also found that college graduates are more likely to have stable employment, health insurance, retirement savings and upward mobility than high school graduates.

Moreover, college education can also offer other benefits, such as exposure to diverse perspectives, development of critical thinking skills, networking opportunities and personal growth.

Therefore, college education should not be dismissed or devalued as a viable option for those who want to pursue their goals and dreams. However, it should also not be seen as the only or mandatory option for everyone.

The bottom line

College education is not for everyone, but neither is dropping out. Both choices have their pros and cons, and ultimately depend on the individual's circumstances, preferences and aspirations.

Russell's success story shows that dropping out of college can be a rewarding and fulfilling decision for some people who have a clear vision and passion for what they want to do, and who are willing to take risks and work hard to achieve it.

However, dropping out of college also comes with challenges and uncertainties, and requires a lot of initiative and drive to learn on your own and create your own opportunities.

On the other hand, college education can provide many benefits, such as higher income potential, better job security, broader knowledge base and personal development.

However, college education also comes with costs and limitations, such as tuition fees, student debt, opportunity costs and rigid curricula.

Therefore, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to whether college education is worth it or not. It depends on what you want to do with your life, what you are good at, what you enjoy doing and what resources and opportunities you have access to.

The most important thing is to follow your passion, pursue your goals and make the best use of your talents and abilities, whether you choose to go to college or not..


(1) College is not for everyone: 28-year-old Stanford dropout billionaire Austin.
(2) Self-made billionaire Austin Russell recommends dropping out of ... - CNBC.
(4) Why the world’s youngest self-made billionaire (and Stanford dropout) says college is not for everyone.
(5) I’m a university dropout & my side hustle made me the world’s youngest self-made billionaire…college isn’t for everyone.
To Top